Now, back to what I was originally going to post about.
A few days ago on gamefaqs, I discovered this article
on gamesutra by Jeffrey Fleming on the state of RPGs in recent years. The article is essentially arguing that JRPGs are in a down swing, which I am kinda inclined to agree with (The last couple years have been absolutely brutal for gaming in general) but the reasoning in this article is either non-existent or just bad. I'm not going to look into every single statement (half of the article is him essentially whining on how much he liked it better in the past) but just the stuff that really bothers me. So let's get this ball rolling...Nintendo's DS handheld has been the platform of choice for the bulk of this year's new JRPG releases, and it is this fact that I find most troubling.
You're right, it is VERY troubling that so many JRPGs are coming out on handhelds. The problem is that the people who should worry the most are console users. For those unaware of the gaming scene in Japan, consoles are on a steep decline while portables are on the way up. Despite having been extremely popular, I suspect that the market for the DS is quietly eroding.
I suspect that you are wrong.The hardware will soon be in its fourth revision and there is no stated plan for what comes next from Nintendo.
Which is a good thing. That means that Nintendo is going to update it and support it further and don't seem to plan to replace it anytime soon. That means its going to last a long time. And besides, how many revisions did the Gameboy go through before it retired with dignity?A quick look around on local public transportation will show that most Americans are far more likely to be fondling a cell device or an iPhone/iPod during their idle moments than a Nintendo DS.
When the fuck did the DS became in competition with the cell phones and mp3 players? Hell, I don't think I've ever seen ANYONE play a portable game console while using public transportation. I don't because I get sick while looking down in a moving vehicle. Once the generous slate of announced DS games for 2010 clears the deck, it will probably be apparent that many of the developers who had previously been focused on the aging handheld will have already left the party.
Yes, because they are going to switch from one of the most successful game systems ever made to systems that are not only less successful, but are also much more expensive to make.Despite having the highest technical specs for a handheld, Sony's PSP continues to be under-utilized as a platform for RPGs.
Wait, you were bitching about the JRPG genre moving onto the small screen, but are unhappy that the PSP is being underused in your opinion?
I smell hypocrisy.It could be argued that Nintendo has done more than any other company to bring the Japanese RPG to worldwide attention. Nintendo hardware has been home to such touchstone games as Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, Dragon Quest, Earthbound, and of course, Zelda. But that was a long time ago. Nintendo consoles have not been a significant platform for new JRPGs since the SNES days and the Wii is no exception.
Congratulations Mr. Fleming, you have arrived in the year 1996. Bill Clinton was in the middle of a successful reelection, Saddam Hussein was still just an evil bastard who showed up in movies when we needed a villain and Nintendo was going to realize they just made the stupidest move they ever made. 98% of third party game companies left Nintendo due to their decision to go with the cartridge and try to pull a fast one with Sony.Another sign of the declining Japanese RPG market is the proliferation of rereleases and remakes of the genre's classic titles. While it certainly helps maintain the audience's flagging enthusiasm and is invaluable for preserving the history of JRPGs, it can't be a healthy development for some of the best games of the year to be revisited classics.
Remaking and rereleasing classic games has been done since the SNES era. This era is not even remotely close to the worst when it comes to this phenomenon. Entire game series (Final Fantasy being the most notable) were ported to the PSX, with some of those ports being remakes of an older game. Once again, welcome to 15 years ago.It will certainly be a big event when the game arrives in the spring, but I doubt that it will signal a flood of new RPGs from the company. Here we are, over four years into the current hardware cycle, and Square-Enix has been slow to commit its signature widescreen adventures to the new consoles. Instead, the company has largely traded on its past with RPG remakes for handhelds, and now seems more focused on action and strategy titles for the bulk of its future catalog.
The entire gaming industry has been slow to catch on. Adam Sessler even talked about this numerous times on his vlog. Its because the rapid jump in gaming costs + recession forced companies to be more conservative the last few years. Square is clearly planning to amp up the RPG production as I can name atleast 4-7 RPGs that should come out within the next couple years (Variance in numbers due to whether or not you count games that are waiting to come to the USA in the tally).RPGs are labor intensive and expensive to create. The hardware transition to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 hit Japanese developers hard. The demand for high fidelity visuals made asset creation an order of magnitude more difficult. In the West, sophisticated middleware solutions have sprung up to help mitigate some of this complexity but many Japanese studios have been slow to adapt to the new development landscape. Because of their large scale, RPGs have been particularly squeezed by the technological demands of the new consoles, resulting in only a handful of truly next-generation titles.
As mentioned earlier, this is true with all genres.The anime and manga bubble has burst.
No it hasn't. Its no longer the "big" thing but that is due to the fact that they've kinda been absorbed into mainstream. If it did burst, you wouldn't see anime routinely being the biggest section in video stores nor would you see new western animation imitating it routinely. This is not like the "Lets-remake-Japanese-superhero-shows!" craze during the 1990s that died in about 3 years.Grown-ups don't like kids stuff. Despite the industry's fixation on serving a youth demographic, the audience for games is aging and it will age out completely unless developers create work that is relevant to adults.
Funfact for the day: Kids and young people are the game industries primary market. Most adults (Note, I am not counting people around my age group) do not play games, so they do not market to them. Most games that appeal to them are either (a.) Porn or (b.) Gimmicks like nintendogs or the stuff that comes out on the Wii.
And now I feel a bit better after the aggravation today... aah